Saturday, December 21, 2019

Mesofluvian Incident ...

The distant Ruberians encounter Turkowaz tribesmen
at Oasis Nadine, commanded by Sheikh Rahtlin Rohl

A couple or so nights back, Paul 'Jacko' Jackson and I got together for a bit of a stoush and chinwag. I showed him what I had made so far of my Bashi-Bazouks; he lent me his copy of The Madasahatta Campaign for a read.  We played one Memoir '44 game, which he ought to have won by walking a tank unit to the exit point, but forgot and tried to eliminate a unit instead.
The Turkowaz, lined up in a long, straggly defence line.

But this posting isn't about them.  It's about the action that started our day, this 'Mesofluvian Incident'.

The depredations of the wild and wily Sheikh Rahtlin Rohl and his Wikid tribesmen upon the southwest fringes of the Rajistan Empire had lately become more than a little irksome.  The Ruberian Governor General, after giving vent to divers expletives and fulminations, summoned Brigadier Sir Roderick Redbone.

'The insolent and shifty Sheikh must be chastised,' quoth the Governor General.  'Take, sir, a suitable force of chastisement unto the Sheikh's lair at, I believe, the Oasis Djonibigud, and thereto administer some chastising.  As soon as may be would be a good time to set out...'

Oasis Nadine
The Brigadier scraped up what troops he could at moment's notice ('As I had already worked out the forces involved, 'Jacko' was given no choice.  That might not have been such a good idea). These comprised as follow:

Ruberian Expeditionary Force:

Commander: Brig. Sir Roderick Redbone .... 6SP
83rd Woppington Light Infantry (WLI, known as 'the Wollies'),
      2 Companies (stands) each 4SP ..... 8SP (Elite, rifle armed)
1st Slittigutti Sepoy Infantry, 2 Companies each 4SP ..... 8SP (Average, rifle armed)
Squadron, 2nd Ballygood Erinland Dragoons, ..... 3SP (Elite)
Squadron, 16th Stickituem Lancers .... 3SP (Average)
2 Batteries, Royal Horse Artillery Gatling Guns @2SP
     2 horsed traction teams @1SP .....6SP (Average)
2 Batteries, Royal Artillery Mountain Guns @ 2SP ..... 
     2 horsed traction teams @1SP .....6SP (Average)

15 units (counting the transports separately):
40 Strength Points; Exhaustion point: -14

Ruberians advance rapidly on their right.  Enthusiastic
Turkowaz sipahis and tribesman, masked by a low ridge
close quickly onto the Ruberian left.
The wily Sheikh being, as reputed, full of wile (not to say, guile), was not one to be surprised by retaliatory moves by anyone he had robbed, assaulted or otherwise caused to rue the Sheikh's very existence. Anticipating the likely approach of any Ruberian force bent on avenging the wrong done them - treasures looted, farm steadings burned, the occasional massacre, kidnap, and other dastardly deed - he gathered together such tribesmen as were not otherwise engaged in his behalf on lifting as much wealth as might be had from Rajistan, the Settee Empire, or the trading roads emerging from the dominions of Cathay.

They comprised:

Wild, Wikid Tribesmen:

Led by: Sheikh Rahtlin Rohl - Gotta keep in trim, eh? .....6SP
10 Tribal Foot War Bands (1 stand apiece) @4SP ..... 40SP (Poor, musket armed)
3 Tribal Sipahis (1 stand apiece) @ 3SP ..... 9SP (Average) 
1 Medium Smoothbore Cannon battery @ 2SP
     1 Horsed traction team @ 1SP ..... 3 SP (Average)
16 units (counting the traction team separately):
58 Strength points.

Action becomes general along the whole Ruberian front.
Close quarter fighting on the left half of the Ruberian line.
Rather than await the Ruberian onslaught, the Sheikh and his army 'marched' (Turkowazian for 'wandered', 'strolled' or 'sauntered') to Oasis Nadine, not far from the desert's edge, and athwart the likely enemy approach march. There he waited along a line of hills and small palm plantations flanking the Oasis itself. For this action, I offered 'Jacko' the choice of army; he chose the Ruberians.

Now, one of the reasons for putting together this scenario - apart from 'blooding' my new Bashi-Bazouks - was to test the extent to which qualitative superiority might counterbalance a disparity in strength. 58SP vs 40SP was not to be sneezed at - call it 3:2, when you leave the transports out of the equation. But all the Wikid foot war bands were classed 'poor', and were armed with muskets; the Ruberians had 3 stands classed 'elite', and all four infantry stands were armed with longer ranged rifles. And don't forget the dreaded Gatling guns.  We should see.

The terrain we just plonked down more or less at random, except for the oasis 'Jacko' wanted in the middle of the table. It made a suitable immediate objective for the Ruberian Punitive Force.
Ruberians reluctant to close on the right - relying on the 
superior firepower of rifles, Gatlings and mountain guns.
The action opened with a rather cautious advance by the Ruberians. Now, Sheikh Rahtlin Rohl is (I am) not made for patient defence, really he's (I'm) not. So it was here. At once, (almost) without his (my) volition, the sipahis on the right, together with the warbands in the same sector surged forward. The low ridge to their front rather masked the 'denizens of the desert' from the Ruberian riflemen. Over and around the ridge surged the Sheikh's Wikid tribesmen, hastening to close with the loathed redcoats.
From his position at the Oasis Nadine, the Sheikh watches
with satisfaction the fight being taken to the invading
The close combat quickly spread from the Ruberian left to the centre, with a considerable blood-letting on both sides. Un combat acharnĂ©, in the best tradition of Baron de Marbot, in which butt and bayonet, sword and scimitar, pistol and poniard were given free exercise. The elite Dragoons were swiftly enough overwhelmed, but the rest of the Ruberian line, though bent and buckled, would not break.
Though the Sipahis have taken heavy losses, the close
quarter fighting continues with unabated ferocity.
On the other flank, the long ranged Wikid cannon opened an ineffectual fire against the approaching Woppington Light Infantry, before they were masked by rather over-enthusiastic Wikid tribesmen. These gentry closed the range to bring their muskets to bear, but were thrown back by the steady rifle fire of the redcoats. The battle devolved here into a to-and-fro firefight in which neither side seemed able to shift the other (On this flank, the Turkowaz lost 7SP, the Ruberians 6 - a close fight.
Close of the action: the exhausted Ruberians with relief
watch the fierce Turkowaz attacks fade away.  But they
won't be visiting Oasis Djonibigud this trip.

But the close action on the Ruberian left was where the battle would be decided, though in the event, possibly 'decided' is a little too definite for accuracy.  True, the Ruberians reached their exhaustion point first. Brigadier Redbone's later report spoke of  'the Thin Red Line' (actually buff-coloured and blue) ...'stood firm against the frantic surging assaults of the enemy...'  Counter-attack was out of the question (Exhaustion Point rule). But it was only a turn or two before the Turkowaz tribesmen themselves reached their exhaustion point, and the attacks faded away.

Of course, the punitive expedition had been stopped cold. There was no question at all of pushing on to Oasis Djonibigud (even Oasis Nadine has been denied them). The Wikid Sheikh's chastisement would have to await another day. Of course, as was the usual Ruberian habit, they were inclined to extract as much from the events to paint a narrative of victory against overwhelming odds...

After the battle, 'Jacko' allowed that possibly the Ruberians had too high a proportion of artillery and machine guns.  He would have preferred just one battery each of mountain guns and Gatlings, and a couple of extra infantry or cavalry units instead.  From the point of view of assembling a balanced force, I agree. But I reckon that, though the qualitative superiority and firepower of the Ruberians didn't quite balance the disparity in numbers (Strength Points) they came pretty close. The Ruberians lost 17SPs, the Turkowaz, 20 - a close fought encounter.

The figures pictured are:
Redcoats and Sepoys - Zulu Wars and Khyber Pass, ESCI
Gatling Guns, HaT
Mountain guns - modified Airfix Napoleonic artillery
Mounted Turkowaz - Mamelukes, HaT
Bashi-Bazouks, Strelets-R
Turkowaz artillery - Souvenir piece from the Tower of London.


  1. Archduke Piccolo,

    A very enjoyable battle report to read, with better equipment just about countering superior numbers. It certainly made me think about getting my Colonial figures out of their boxes and fighting a battle.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Bob -

      You know you want to... I've been looking at the Madasahatta campaign ('Jacko' bought a copy), and thinking that there might have been some colonial competition some 30-40 years before in the nearby island of Igottascar or Myopscar (or some such name). I liked the naval aspects, but would have liked to see more of the land operations.

      At any rate, 'Jacko' has been building his own colonial forces (far more extensive than mine) for a similar campaign of his own. I'm hoping he will allow me to join in in some way.

      I have to admire Mr Knowles touch with names (Wazir Aminitago - classic), though perhaps the Good Russian Admiral ... tsk, tsk.

      Now, if maybe the French had established a colony on Madasahatta, that still survived by 1870 (taken over by the Prussians after 1871, say...)


  2. What a great looking "incident"...Nice report and handsome terrain...

    1. For a pick-up game it was quite fun - a real 'get tore in' style of action. Thanks for your kind comment on the terrain!

  3. Great game Archduke - the Madasahatta Campaign is an inspirational read.

    1. To me this is quite surprising, as I have never really been 'into' colonial war gaming. It has to do with the theme of this battle: technology over numbers. However, as a campaign, with a reasonably sophisticated indigenous military (as the Zulus were - and, in New Zealand, Maori, too, in a whole different way), and competition from other predatory nations, the thing becomes quite intriguing.

  4. Quite entertaining. I see a Chuck Berry, Rock'n'Roll' theme running through the names

  5. Cool little game. Took me a while to get around to reading it. Was worth the wait though.

    1. Thank you. It was a fun action to play - for all that it was just a pick-up game. A border clash, nothing more...